Moving on.

Michaël Samyn, June 23, 2012

A young man was showing us a videogame he was working on the other day. He was explaining how his game was different because it didn’t have any puzzles or combat or scores. We were expected to develop an opinion about his work, and I couldn’t help but think that this was not special at all, not anymore.

At first I was surprised, because it’s the kind of thing I have been saying and defending myself for a long time. But then I realized that this means that we have moved on, that something has happened. Something has changed.

Sure, the commercial mainstream rages on with its mediocre conservative spectacles. But there are alternatives now. We may even be approaching a situation similar to that in other media, where the popular mainstream is just banal titillation but where there is also a strong stream of other, more sincere, more artistic work.

Perhaps today the phrase “this videogame doesn’t have conventional rules or goals” has become as little revolutionary or special as “this music doesn’t have drums” or “there’s no explosions in this movie” or “this book is not structured like a hero’s journey”. Drums, explosions and heroes may still be super-popular, but everybody knows that other things exist as well, and that those things are valuable, even if, perhaps, sometimes they require a bit more attention to appreciate.

And the greatest thing about this is that suddenly the creation of artistic videogames has become a lot more challenging. It is no longer good enough to make a game without guns or platforms. We’re in the next phase now: we need to work harder. Finally!

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